Which one of these non-drug treatments is clinically proven to work?

A. Exercise for depression
B. Patellar taping for knee osteoarthritis
C. Graded exercise for chronic fatigue
D. Honey for children’s coughs
E. Pre-meal water for weight loss
F. Hot packs for blue bottle stings
G. Exercise for acute lower back pain
H. All of them.

If you said H, you’re correct.

Non-drug treatments for common health conditions are not often promoted because no one has a commercial incentive to do so. At the same time we, and our doctors, are frequently exposed to messages extolling the virtues of drug treatments to solve these problems.

You can’t really blame the doctors. In fact, I’ve seen market research in which patients express dissatisfaction when they come away from a medical consultation without a prescription. So you can imagine why doctors could have a tendency to write a prescription that can be filled at the chemist, when other alternatives, like a prescription for exercise for instance, may be just as – or more – effective.

I have to plead complicity in this process, as I have for many years worked for major pharmaceutical companies and their advertising agencies which promote said chemicals to both doctors and the public.

Like many people, I assumed that eventually there would be ‘a pill for every ill’ resulting in longer, happier lives for all. And for many illnesses, there are now brilliantly effective, life-prolonging drug therapies available, resulting from the research conducted by pharmaceutical companies.

But there are still many conditions for which chemical intervention is ineffective or unsatisfactory and where non-drug therapies can be both effective and economical.

Information detailing 35 of these treatments now resides on a very clean-looking section of the RACGP Royal Australian College of General Practitioners website under the banner of The HANDI Project (Handbook of Non-Drug interventions.) All of the ‘interventions’ are supported by clinical evidence and the site is regularly updated by a team of doctors and allied health professionals.

The site states that its aim is: ‘…to make prescribing a non-drug therapy almost as easy as writing a prescription for a drug.’

Although the articles on the site are written in medical language, there are PDFs attached to each page, which should be easy to follow by those of us unaccustomed to medical speak.

So check it out. You may find a non-drug treatment that works for you. Oh, and please, do consult your doctor if symptoms persist.

Do you know of any other non-drug treatments that have worked for you, or for someone you know?

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